Dave Campbell, Robert W. Mutch
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Hot Topic(s):
Fire & Wilderness

NRFSN number: 14472
Record updated: September 23, 2021

In August of 1972, the small Bad Luck Fire signaled the start of returning fire to the wilderness for the USDA Forest Service. Forty-three years later, the wisdom of allowing perhaps the most important of the “forces of nature” to prevail has been proven time and again. While climate change challenges fire managers across the globe, where fires have been allowed to roam freely, ecosystems are better prepared. Early lessons learned by allowing fires to burn in wilderness have changed the way federal agencies manage fires on all lands. Fire is an important natural disturbance that allowed to function as nature intended helps reduce fuel loads and reduces the frequency and severity of future fires.


Campbell, D.; Mutch, R.W. 2016. Time shows wisdom of letting some wilderness fires roam freely. Journal of Forestry. 114(3): 418-419.

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